Saturday, November 08, 2008

They'll be playing support to Joe Dolce

Ultravox - the version fronted by Midge Ure, rather than the 1992 revival take - are selling tickets for a reunion tour next April:

10 Edinburgh Playhouse
(0870 228 1155)
18-22 Greenside Place, Edinburgh, Scotland EH1 3AA
11 Glasgow Clyde
(0870 040 4000)
Finnieston Street, Glasgow, Scotland G3 8YW
13 Newcastle City Hall
(0191 261 2606)
Northumberland Road, Newcastle Upon Tyne NE1 8SF
14 Manchester Apollo
(0844 477 7677)
Stockport Road, Manchester, Lancashire M12 6AP
15 Sheffield City Hall
(0114 278 9789)
Barkers Pool, Sheffield S1 2JA
17 Birmingham Symphony Hall
(0121 780 3333)
Broad Street, Birmingham B1 2EA
18 Bristol Colston Hall
(0117 922 3686)
Colston Street, Bristol BS1 5AR
20 Cardiff St. David's Hall
(0292 087 8444)
The Hayes, Cardiff, Wales CF10 1AH
21 Nottingham Royal Theatre
(0115 989 5555)
Theatre Square, Nottingham NG1 5ND
23 Brighton Dome
(0127 370 9709)
29 New Road, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 1UG
24 London Hammersmith Apollo
(0844 844 4748)
45 Queen Caroline Street, London W6 9QH
26 Bournemouth International Centre
(0844 576 3000)
Exeter Road, Bournemouth BH2 5BH
27 Plymouth Pavillion
(0845 146 1460)
Millbay Road, Plymouth PL1 3LF
28 Portsmouth Guildhall
(0239 282 4355)
Guildhall Square, Portsmouth, Hampshire PO1 2AB

B&S prepare new LP; Gordon Smart expecting first listen

According to Stuart Murdoch's diary, the new [not-quite a] Belle & Sebastian album is about to go for mastering:

I’m aiming to master all the “God Help The Girl” songs by the end of November. I think there are 18 of them. It’s a good feeling to think about making records. Sleeves and schedules, running orders and what not. It’s been so long since I did it that, I suspect the landscape has changed.

Do you get the same thrill when you look forward to a record coming out? I suppose I must ask the youngsters among you, because age dulls most thrills. But youngsters, where are your thrills coming from? Do you desire the sensation that is the Long Playing Record. Does pop music teach you and hold you and thrill you the way it used to? The way it did to us?

Careful, Stuart - going online and asking young people what thrills them is a little frowned on these days, you know.

[via Muzzle Of Bees]
[UPDATE: Thanks to the commenter who pointed out that this isn't quite a Belle And Sebastian release]

Written on the body

System Of A Down has recently thrown a competition to find out the names of their biggest fans - which is handy, as it saves the rest of us time when preparing our court orders.

How do SOAD measure their fan's commitments? It seems by their willingness to scar themselves in their name - all three winners have got tattoos relating to the band.

MisunderstoodRose won - the band describe her as "appropriately named", although it's hard to see what's particularly misunderstood about her. She's got a Serj Tankian poem tattooed down her side - luckily the lines are quite short and don't become too inappropriate.

University Of The Solent praises Craig David

I don't know if his acceptance speech included any mention at all of how he felt about Bo Selecta - although since he seems incapable of getting through a sentence with whining about it, chances are he did: Craig David has been given an honorary degree by Solent University.

I checked, it was definitely Southampton's famous Solent University, and not Soylent University. They've made David a Doctor Of Music, which does mean, officially, that he should always be referred to as Doc-Doc-Doc-Doc-Doctor Beat.

Darkness at 3AM: They went to Liverpool

This is from the 3AM RSS feed - pretty much all today's entries read like this, with varying headlines. But why does "after-party" not demand the same CAPS LOCK treatment?

Gordon in the morning: Quite a scoop

You have to take your hat off to Gordon today: he has got a global scoop. A genuine one. A Britney exclusive:

Roll up! Hear Brit's Circus first

Actually, it's not quite as impressive as that would make it sound - typically, even when Gordon gets something worth having, he manages to turn it into a disappointment. The headline should be "I hear Brit's Circus first", as you don't get a stream of Britney, but instead get to read about what Gordon thinks of it:
I’m the only journalist on the planet to have heard the pop princess’s latest offering

It's arguable if Britney is still a pop princess, but no more arguable than if Gordon is a journalist or not.

The trouble is, whatever Gordon's strengths are (wearing borrowed suits, identifying breasts), he's useless as a reviewer. Perhaps that's why he was given first listen - you don't let someone who can work out the secret ingredients sample the first taste of the new chicken sauce. But it does mean that still, really, only one person on the planet outside Britney's team knows what the thing really sounds like:
Kill The Lights focuses on the star’s relationship with the paparazzi, the lights referring to flash bulbs. It’s a brilliant disco banger with an elastic bass line and plenty of spooky keyboard work.

During Kill The Lights Brit addresses her camera-toting tormentors with the brilliant line: “Is that money in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?”

Yes, yes, it might not be that brilliant a line, but this is a man who has just described a track as a "brilliant disco banger".

The broader point to remember, though, is that The Sun has never yet been given an exclusive opportunity to have first listen to an album it doesn't like. Under Newton and Smart, the flattery of being the first audience is always reflected back in much greater flattery in the review. Mind you, if team Brit was hoping for something they could slap on the adverts, they might struggle a bit:
It’s a stirring break-up ballad up there with the best.

Perhaps they should think about getting a copy over to someone else.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Let's not use phrases like 'whoring themselves out'

After the terrible I Can't Believe It's Not Butter slot, and Sharon's bingo slot, you might have thought The Osbournes would have realised their value to advertisers wasn't as a high-end, blue chip spokespeople and withdrawn from the field with what little of their dignity they can still lay claim to.

However, even pitching margarine and gin-sodden gambling puts cash into pockets, and so perhaps its no surprise that the entire family have signed up with an agency to seek out more opportunities:

John Ferriter, executive vice-president and head of non-scripted television at William Morris, said: "The Osbournes are international stars and have become a part of today's entertainment culture. We look forward to exploring opportunities that will capitalise on the family's global appeal and will follow the production of their new show."

Global appeal, huh? Yeah, Kelly Osbourne is the toast of Mogadishu.

Noel warns Thom against being stuck

To be fair to Noel Gallagher, there is a degree of truth in his claim that Radiohead might be stuck in something of a rut:

"The biggest criticism that the music press have against us [Oasis] is that we're not Radiohead," Gallagher said.

"Correct me if I'm wrong, they've been making the same record since 'Kid A', have they not?"

But is it really the biggest criticism of Oasis that they're not Radiohead? Isn't it more common that people complain that the problem with Oasis is that they're Oasis? And even if Radiohead have spent the last ten years remaking the same record, does that really excuse Oasis spending two decades making and remaking someone else's records? It's hard to choose... Thom... Noel... Thom...
... sherry... Noel... schooner of sherry?

Yes on 8? No to taxes, concludes Mel Etheridge

Following on from the Mormon church buying a slice of repression in California, Melissa Etheridge has decided that if the state doesn't recognise her love, she won't recongise its demands for taxation:

So Prop 8 passed. Alright, I get it. 51% of you think that I am a second class citizen. Alright then. So my wife, uh I mean, roommate? Girlfriend? Special lady friend? You are gonna have to help me here because I am not sure what to call her now. Anyways, she and I are not allowed the same right under the state constitution as any other citizen. Okay, so I am taking that to mean I do not have to pay my state taxes because I am not a full citizen. I mean that would just be wrong, to make someone pay taxes and not give them the same rights, sounds sort of like that taxation without representation thing from the history books.

In her piece for the Daily Beast, Etheridge reveals that not paying taxes will save her about half a million dollars a year, which means in laying her heart on the line, she's also shown us how much she earns.

Now, witholding taxes is good - but wouldn't it be more fun if she took the half million and funded a tit-for-tat measure in Utah come the next election? Perhaps a ballot on Mark Steel's proposal that everyone has to do a gay National Service of two year's homosexuality?

The Academy Is now renamed

Not that anyone with any sense ever called the Academy chain venues The Carling Academy chain anyway, but in a spot of horse-trading, the places are all now to be sponsored by O2 instead.

Rather less thrillingly, apparently part of the deal is that O2 customers get "priority" for tickets at the venues. That's exactly what bands need in their audience - a crowd who are there on the basis of what phone network they're with rather than the love of their music.

Duff: too hot for... who, exactly?

Remember Hilary Duff's music career? No, that's what the record label was afraid your response would be. How amazingly convenient then that unspecified 'officials' decided that the video for Reach Out was "too raunchy" and had to be recut.

How terrible, that a yawn-so-provocative video with barely-restraining bondage light, some people in underwear, and a finger-licking scene should need to be toned down just as the track is being released to push next week's Greatest Hits album. How simply terrible to have all this fuss.

We'll save you the effort - and shame of having the Google search recorded. This is the 'official' version:

Unfortunately, all the effort seems to have gone on the pants purchasing and not on producing a decent song.

[Thanks to Michael M for the tip]

Favour repaid. Now, never call me again.

So, you'll have been fretting: did Ryan Seacrest explode in a sticky-sweet mess as Britney and Justin turned up to help out their grandmother? Well, sort of: they did turn up (individually) and put in some sort of appearance at Madonna's LA gig; neither, it seemed, were that thrilled to be there. In a week where America had got a taste of history, this was a flat desert.


In words that will, I suspect, cause less than no fear in the offices of Apple, MySpace's Chris DeWolfe has hinted that, you know, the high design quality brought by MySpace to the web could be applied to producing one of those elusive beasts, an iPod killer:

[H]e also intimated that the social network could have an even bigger target in its sights – Apple, the company behind the massively successful iPod. Asked whether the company would consider making its own MP3 player to build on its reputation in online music, DeWolfe replied cryptically that "it's possible".

To be fair, this is less a sign that Everyone's friend Tom is busily trying to work out how to put glittery unicorn stickers onto a Walkman than DeWolfe just attempting to be enigmatic, but if I was the manufacturer of any sort of mp3 player, I'd be calling uncle Rupert and asking if he'd fancy slapping his ugly logo on one of my unloved machines.

Another one disappears into the Brand vortex

In what even the MediaGuardian is calling Sachsgate - seriously? that's the best you could do? - another head has rolled; the website is flashing that Dave Barber, head of Radio 2's compliance team, has resigned. Boy, has he been considering his position for a long, long time. More worryingly from a people who like Radio 2 perspective is that Barber's other job was being in charge of specialist music programmes on the network.

Music industry sued by Hall, Oates for not suing

Given that most music companies can't help themselves for firing off legal complaints, it's something of a surprise to discover that Warner/Chappell publishing didn't bother to spew out a writ when someone did an unauthorised cover of Maneater. Now, as if to demonstrate how no good deed goes unpunished, Hall And Oates are suing Warner/Chappell for not protecting their copyright. W/C say they'll defend themselves "vigorously"; it's not known if they'll be able to explain why they are and their sister companies are quite happy to pursue to the full extent of the law, say, mechanics whose radios might be audible to the public, but don't actually seem that arsed by more open-and-shut copyright 'theft'.

Who left whom, Albarn?

The most interesting aspect of the latest in the never-ending waves of 'ooh, maybe Blur will reunite' ponderings is the way Albarn is starting to tweak history:

"The truth be known, Graham and I have been hanging out together a bit. We had lunch the other day," Albarn told BBC Radio 1 on Wednesday. "It's very possible I'll go back to Blur, it really is very possible ... it's fantastic to get my old friend back."

It's subtle, but there's just a hint that he'd like us to forget that it was Coxon who bailed out of the band when Albarn was busily pushing ahead with what, by then, was a played-out idea.

Still, lets hope that this time the reunion will be on. It might not be that good, and it's unlikely to be as interesting as anything that Coxon has done solo, but at least it'll stop the pair of them mooning about like an indie-pop version of Ross and Rachel from Friends - 'we're on a break/ we might get back together/ it's over/ we're on a break' on and on and on...

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Locked out of the love-in: Consumers missing from copyright deals

The Open Rights Group has made a formal complaint to the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform about the lack of a consumer voice in discussions between Ofcom, copyright holders and government over responses to file-sharing:

“None of the regulatory solutions have satisfactory consumer safeguards,” ORG warns, “Consumers have been locked out of the negotiations between ISPs and rightsholders currently being chaired by Ofcom. As recent news reports show, rightsholders are already levelling false accusations of file-sharing at consumers. Without proper safeguards, many more consumers will suffer. The clandestine negotiations are a disgrace.”

“We are deeply dissatisfied that no consumer voice is sat around this negotiating table, and that Ofcom are instead expected to represent the consumer interest, at one and the same time as chairing the meeting,” the organisation continues.

Having said that, though, even if Ofcom weren't taking a dual role, you'd not be expecting them to act in much of a consumer protection role anyway, given their track record.

The ORG also points out the current approach - of trying to ban stuff - only inspires new workarounds; it suggests that maybe talking to customers could be a more useful approach.

Roses bloom without May

During the long, long birth of Chinese Democracy - as part of the throwing of everything at the wall stage - Brian May stepped down from his traditional perch on the roof of Buckingham Palace to record some bits.

May's work, recorded back in 1999, hasn't made the final cut. May, for once, isn't raging, but quietly accepting of his fate, blogging:

Well, it is a shame, perhaps ... I did put quite a lot of work in, and was proud of it.

But I could understand if Axl wants to have an album which reflects the work of the members of the band as it is, right now.

I do have mixes of the tracks with my guitar on, work tapes at the time, but they will remain private, out of respect for Axl.

That would be mutual respect, of the sort where you don't bother to tell someone that you've dumped their work from an album and leave it to someone sneaking a peek at the credits on an early copy of the artwork, of course.

Madonna: seats left at all prices

Oh, dear: there are so many spaces left for Madonna's LA gig tonight, they've been reduced to spreading rumours that Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears might join her on stage. Ryan Seacrest is excited:

"If Justin and Britney end up on that stage with her...I don't know if I've ever seen anything quite like that before," Seacrest said.

Surely Britney/Madonna/Xtina was quite like that, though, wasn't it?

Rumours that Madonna has promised to return Britney and Justin's souls if they help shore up her crumbling reputation could not be confirmed.

Fools, money wave goodbye

Despite having been duped by ITV to the sum of several million quid, X Factor viewers are still lining up to line Michael Grade's pockets. Voting on the programme has trebled since last year.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Deftones bassist in a coma

Chi Cheng, bassist with The Deftones, is in a coma in a California hospital. He was injured in a car crash on Monday, about which little - beyond the word "serious" - much seems to be definitively known.

Mojo not working

There was probably something inevitable in the Bauer radio strategy being pulled back - they're closing down Mojo Radio. To be fair, for a service which overlapped with so many other radio stations, its audience of 279,000 wasn't that bad; Bauer will be hoping those people retune to Q Radio after they close Mojo at the end of this month.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

NME are still doing their cool list

For reasons that can only be self-destructive, the NME is pushing ahead with its Cool List. Seven years they've been doing this now, and still not learning from their mistakes - which Stereogum helpfully point out: the NME is useless as separating 'cool' from 'notorious':

Before talking about NME's seventh annual cool list, it's kind of cool to look quickly at the 2007 Top 10 to see who's still ... cool. Lethal Bizzle? Barely. Amy Winehouse? Lucky to be alive. Ditto Keith Richards. Beth Ditto? No. Last year one, two, and three went, respectively, to Gallows' Frank Carter, Klaxons' Jamie Reynolds and CSS's Lovefoxx. This year they're all far from the top 10 and the coolest three folks didn't make the list at all 12 months ago.

Apparently, Liam Gallagher is cool again - number nine - while Noel isn't. Has nobody at the NME seen Liam's promo pictures, with his hair and attempts at soulful eyes making him look like Playmobil have licensed Snoopy? Alice Glass from Crystal Castles is at number one - because this is the one time a year when NME pretends it likes Gurls - and Jay-Z is at number two. He wasn't in the list last year; we're awaiting delivery of a full explanation as to why Jay-Z in the last twelve months was cool whereas Jay-Z between October 2006 and October 2007 wasn't even fiftieth coolest.

The only thing the cool list proves, year-in, year-out, is that the NME approaches music like a confused thirty-nine year old, trying to draw up some sort of list that will try and give it some sort of purchase on making sense of it all. Johnny Marr is slightly less cool than Dave from TV On The Radio, who in turn is slightly less cool than Lil Wayne. At least the Sunday Times Rich List shows the made-up numbers it uses in drawing up its equally pointless annual chart.

Life becoming a landslide

The Manics and Steve Albini are currently busy in a studio making an album based around unrecorded Richey lyrics.

Part of me is excited at the idea of the Manics working with a producer who should be able to kick out a load of their flab, and using lyrics written by the smart one out the band. The other part of me - and it turns out to be the bit of me which shouts the loudest - is picturing James Dean Bradfield smashing the glass on the big red 'In emergency of running totally of out ideas' panic box on the studio wall.

Genesis hope to bring back Gabriel

Genesis are shopping for lawnmowers, as they consider reuniting with Peter Gabriel. Somehow, though, you suspect it's not so much the idea of Gabriel singing again that's the real driver here:

“We’ve never said never about it, you know,” Genesis keyboardist Tony Banks told Billboard. “I know Phil (Collins) would be quite happy with the idea of just playing the drums; it would be quite fun for him.

Yes - it'd be fun. Also, if Collins is busted back down to drummer, it'll be up to him to rent the band's van from Enterprise and he'll have to put up the money for the petrol - although he'll get it back, promise, just as soon as the dude from the venue gives over the band's share of the door money.

And they said Obama wasn't going to take victory for granted

Even although he's not president yet - not even president-elect yet - Barack Obama is dropping all his friends from before he was famous. MTV reports that Jay-Z, P Diddy, Ben Affleck, the AFLAC duck, Mary J Blige and - well, you can probably round this list out for yourself - have been asked to stay away from tonight's big Chicago victory bash*.

But then, if you were president, wouldn't your first move be to send an email to Puff Daddy telling him to keep at least a Federally-mandated five hundred feet away at all times?

* - not that it's a victory bash yet, as nobody is taking anything for granted, but they couldn't wait until the New York polls close before they start carving a sixty-foot ice sculpture depicting Obama riding Pegasus as the planets themselves bow down before him, could they? The ice sculptors do say they'll leave off doing the face until six-thirty Eastern time, though, so it could just be Joe The Plumber if the exit data looks gloomy. back

Rhianna enters into awkward devil/charity pact

Rhianna - having exhausted the market for Rhianna-themed umbrella memorabilia - is now taking on a new role, as the face of Gucci's new UNICEF range.

Yes, yes, you did read that correctly: Gucci - overpriced way of separating fools and money - are doing a range for UNICEF, which Rhianna will be pushing.

Is it right to be cynical, though? Isn't it a great thing that Gucci is handing over all the cash it makes from exploiting Rhianna and the idea of starving children to try and do some good in the world? Isn't it in the least bit heartwarming?

The Umbrella hitmaker will front the Italian designer's Tattoo Heart range of products. A quarter of all profits made from the line will be donated to the children's charity.

Sorry? What was that? A quarter of profits? So in other words, seventy-five per cent of the profit will stick with Gucci. Is Rhianna comfortable that, in effect, she's promoting a product which pretends to be about helping the disadvantaged, but actually is generating a dollar for a luxury brand for every 33 cents it makes for the starving kids it's using as a marketing tool?

All you need is a hell of a lot of money

We're alerted by an email from Gary W to Bloomingdales and the enormous store of Beatles-related tat - including this, a Beatles-branded iPod. Of course, with The Beatles still not yet available on iTunes, in order to get the band's music onto your iPod, you'll need to rip them from CD, so the set comes with the back catalogue on disc.

Of course, you're - strictly speaking - not legally allowed to rip from a CD you own to an mp3 player (that, at least, is what RIAA have told courts while under oath, and the RIAA wouldn't lie). So, for your eight hundred bucks- yes, eight hundred bucks - you would have to play the records on your CD player while pretending to listen to them on your iPod. It's just like the real thing, only without upsetting Yoko Ono.

Woolworths helps the mp3 format out of obscurity

You might have thought that the public - even the not-especially-tech-savvy parts of it - have, over the last 14 years or so, grown used to the mp3 format and understood what it is and what it does. Indeed, part of the problem other online music formats have is they lack the recognition value of the mp3 and aren't so simple to understand what they do.

Woolworths, HMV and a bunch of other UK music retailers aren't so sure. Indeed, they feel the idea of an mp3 file is so alien to the populace that they might need a logo to understand it.

This is it. For some reason, early plans to include a "plays for sure" promise were judged unwise and quietly dropped. The Entertainment Retailers Assocation are proud of their new baby:

7digital, Digitalstores, Tescodigital, Tunetribe,, HMV and Woolworths are all on board for the launch. ERA digital chairman Russel Coultart said the move was to take the message to music fans "that they can legally buy downloads which are not locked to specific players or computers or mobile phones".

Aha. Here we are mocking them but clearly, they've identified a segment of the market that will recognise that "mp3" refers to a digital music format but without the words "100% compatible" wouldn't realise it would play on their mp3 player.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Bad news for big labels: Ticketmaster wants their jobs

Following on from LiveNation's tentative steps to move from promotion into fully servicing musician's careers, Ticketmaster has announced plans that also would eat into the point of standalone record labels:

"The biggest misconception about this [Front Line management takeover] deal is that Ticketmaster in the future will be what it was in the past," recently minted Ticketmaster head Irving Azoff told Billboard. "The new name of the company is Ticketmaster Entertainment, and it's a platform for us to build a lot of other things. The fortunes of this company aren't going to rise and fall just on the ticketing business. We're going to build the ability for people to distribute their music."

Not quite moving into the label business - as yet - but a major artist looking to avoid giving large chunks of cash to the EMIs of this planet might find the idea of getting a company to handle flogging downloads alongside the more lucrative selling of tickets an attractive one. If I ran a major, I think I'd be thinking if the future might involve bringing my catalogue into a company like Ticketmaster or LiveNation now, rather than waiting until my stock was so low they could snap it up for a pittance.

Trois strikes et outez: French lawmakers bend to labels' whims

The unpopular 'three strikes and you're out' idea beloved of record labels and movie studios, which would see people disenfranchised by being kicked off the internet on the say so of media companies, is edging towards becoming law in France. The only good news for French people who like their laws to be made for them, rather than paranoid multinational corporations, is that the EU seems determined to strike down any such law, what with how cutting people off from the free flow of news and information to pacify the RIAA is counter to human rights and common sense.

Flicking off the Circuit: CC shrinks network

Anyone who has been in a Circuit City recently will probably have noticed the stench of death coming from the chain: the US electronics and entertainment store is struggling so badly, you can see it on the shelves. I'd assumed the nearest one to the bit of Denver I'm currently at - the Colorado Blvd branch - must have been earmarked for closure as the only way to explain the tired stock and the depressed-looking staff, but it turns out this is one of the branches that's been saved. What the 150 shops that are being wound down must be like, I shudder to think.

U2 Tower tumbles as stock markets turn to dust

Some good news out of the economic gloom: the ugly tower that U2 was going to throw up to spike the Dublin skyline has been put on hold for 12 months as nobody wants to invest in a Bono vanity project right now. No word yet on if the group's plans to despoil The Clarence will similarly be reined in as Ireland wins the European race to recession.

Fall Out Boy: So many interviews, so little to say

The Guinness Book Of Records is going to find some space for Fall Out Boy, who have just broken the world record for most interviews in a 24 hour period. Wentz and Stump spoke to 74 different radio stations - presumably they'd have done more but simply ran out of interesting things to say.

Glastonbury zero

Although the official line is that Glastonbury didn't make a profit, the charities the festivals support still got their million quid, which would seem to be the main thing. The lack of any surplus for reinvestment, though, would surely be something of a worry- right, Michael Eavis?

"Glastonbury costs £22m now, it's a huge cost," Eavis recently told BBC 6 Music. "The infrastructure, the fencing, the roads, the water and the loos, the marquees, the management, the security and the police, it goes on and on so we do have to sell out in order to make it work."

"Costing had gone through the roof and the diesel costs had gone up by about 200,000 pounds," he said. "All the other costs had gone up as well."
"It's the first year in 39 years that we didn't make anything out of it," he said, "so it's not bad really is it?"

That would depend, Michael, on where the money underpinning next year's festival comes from. It does make the decision to offer tickets for sale earlier on - with a deposit up front - seem a little more understandable, though.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Rate 08: Best of lists

This post will expand as more 'best of 2008' lists and selections appear

ilxor is doing a similar thing, only better and DJ Martian is over this sort of thing, too. Largehearted Boy has just started his year-end lists round-up, too.

Bigger Than The Sound's top albums of the year:
5. The Hold Steady - Stay Positive
4. Kanye West - 808s & Heartbreak
3. The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 Sound
2. Deerhunter - Microcastle/ Weird Era Cont.
1. TV on the Radio - Dear Science

Blender's top albums:
10. Fall Out Boy - Folie A Deux
9. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
8. Randy Newman - Harps and Angels
7. Of Montreal - Skeletal Lamping
6. Robyn - Robyn
5. Hot Chip - Made In The Dark
4. Metallica - Death Magnetic
3. TV On The Radio - Dear Science
2. Girl Talk - Feed The Animals
1. Lil' Wayne - Tha Carter III

Andrew Collins sums up the year, musically:

On reflection, although historic in a geo-political sense and full of financial portent, it's not been a vintage one for stuff. I have been about as underwhelmed by the long-playing record as at any other stage in my music-loving life - but there have been some tremendous songs, so all is not lost.

Dab DeLuca's best Phildelphia releases of the year:
3. Dr. Dog - Fate
2. The Roots - Rising Down
1. The War On Drugs - Wagonwheel Blues

Decibel magazine's top albums:
10. Disfear - Live the Storm
9. Made Out of Babies - The Ruiner
8. Wetnurse - Invisible City
7. Origin - Antithesis
6. Rotten Sound - Cycles
5. The Gates of Slumber - Conqueror
4. Opeth - Watershed
3. Genghis Tron - Board Up the House
2. Nachmystium - Assassins: Black Meddle Part 1
1. Torche - Meanderthal

Robert Duffy of DoneWaiting's favourite things:
3. Times New Viking - Rip It Off
2. The Dodos - Visiter
1. Florence & The Machine - Kiss With A Fist (and live at SXSW)

The Duke Spirit's favourite album of the year, via Filter:
The Raconteurs - Consolers of the Lonely

Estelle's albums of the year, via The Observer:
Santogold - Santogold
Raphael Saadiq - The Way I See It

Fact Magazine's best reissues:
5. A Guy Called Gerald - Black Secret Technology
4. Dennis Wilson - Pacific Ocean Blue
3. Aphex Twin - Selected Ambient Works
2. Arthur Russell - Love Is Overtaking Me
1. Gas - Nah Und Fern

Faronheit's worst albums of the year:
10. Of Montreal - Skeletal Lamping
9. Ben Folds - Way to Normal
8. Tapes 'n Tapes - Walk It Off
7. Snow Patrol - A Hundred Million Suns
6. Foo Fighters - Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace
5. Ryan Adams and the Cardinals - Cardinology
4. Jem - Down to Earth
3. CSS - Donkey
2. Cold War Kids - Loyalty to Loyalty
1. Scarlett Johansson - Anywhere I Lay My Head

Guardian Critic poll top albums of the year:
5. MGMT - Oracular Spectacular
4. Portishead - Third
3. Elbow - The Seldom-Seen Kid
2. Bon Ivor - For Emma, Forever Ago
1. TV On The Radio - Dear Science

The Guardian Guide's best film music moments of 2008:

Can't Smile Without You - Barry Manilow (Helboy 2)
Backing a great buddy moment between two drunk, lovesick monsters. Proof that Manilow can melt any heart.

Eye Of The Tiger - Chiara Mastroianni (Persepolis)
Iran, Islamic revolution: of course a cover of the theme to Rocky III is the obvious choice.

All The Young Dudes - Mott The Hoople (Juno)
You know you're past it when your cheesy nostalgia tracks are the kids' hip new discoveries.

Enola Gay - OMD (Waltz With Bashir)
Putting this 1980s synth-pop classic in the context of the Lebanon war suddenly made it sound doomy and serious again.

Get Back - Ludacris (Tropic Thunder)
Ever wanted to see Tom Cruise bringing his "hip-hop" moves?

Sarah Harding's albums of the year, via The Observer:
Kings Of Leon - Only By The Night
AC/DC - Black Ice

Josh Jackson, editor in chief of Paste, best album:
Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago

Ezra Koenig's favourite albums of the year, via The Observer:
Lil Wayne - Tha Carter III
The Walkmen - You And Me

Steve LaBate, associate editor of Paste, picks his favourite records of the year:
Album: She & Him - Volume One
Single: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Dig, Lazarus, Dig

Lefsetz letter annotates the US best-selling albums of 2008 (correct to 21-11-08):
1. Lil Wayne "Tha Carter III" 2,671,816
Do we want to focus on the Internet marketing campaign (i.e. the steady release of free product), the discounts/free goods to retail, the fact that a hip-hop album is number one or the low total gross. I choose to look at this final fact. There’s not a lot of road business. A 360 deal with most rappers won’t help your bottom line. Lil Wayne’s the king, but it’s not the domain it used to be.

2. Coldplay "Viva La Vida" 1,905,679
Based on the hype, you’d think it did 5 million, wouldn’t you?
Most interesting fact? 579,007 of those albums were digital.

Ladytron's favourite album of the year, via Filter:
TV On The Radio - Dear Science

Laura Marling's favourite albums of the year, via the Observer:
Sigur Ros - Með Suð í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust
Elbow - The Seldom-Seen Kid's top ten music of the year:
1. Rock ‘N’ Roll
2. Rap Music
3. Country
4. Dance
5. Instrumental
6. Jazz
7. Classical
8. Soundtracks
9. Flip-Flap
10. Singing Music

Mojo's Top albums:
10. Neil Diamond - Home Before Dark
9. The Bug - London Zoo
8. The Week That Was - The Week That Was
7. Glasvegas - Glasvegas
6. The Hold Steady - Stay Positive
5. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!
4. Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago
3. Paul Weller - 22 Dreams
2. The Last Shadow Puppets - The Age Of The Understatement
1. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes

MTV News' hottest R&B single of the year:
T-Pain (featuring Lil Wayne) - Can't Believe It

Muzzle Of Bees' best concerts:
5. David Byrne - Austin City Limits, Austin (Muzzle of Bees Review)
4. My Morning Jacket - Riverside Theater, Milwaukee
3. Bon Iver/AA Bondy - Pabst Theater, Milwaukee
2. Bruce Springsteen - Lakefront/Harley-Davidson 105th
1. Tom Waits - Moren Theater, Jacksonville

New York Times best pop and jazz box sets:
Lester Young With Count Basie
Love Train: The Sound of Philadelphia
Johnny Cash - At Folsom Prison
Toshiko Akiyosh-Lew Tabackin Big Band - Mosaic Select 33
And This Is Free: The Life & Times Of Chicago's Legendary Maxwell Street
Arabian Prince - Innovative Life
Black Sabbath - The Rules Of Hell
Boots Buckles & Spurs: 50 Songs Celebrate 50 Years Of The Cowboy Tradition
Anthony Braxton - The Complete Arista Recordings
Calypsoul 70: Caribbean Soul & Calypso Crossover, 1969-1979
Cheap Trick - Budokan
D'Angelo - The Best So Far
Miles Davis - Kind Of Blue
Franco & Le Tpok Jazz - Francophonic: Africa's Greatest
Genesis - 1970 - 1975
The Grateful Dead - Rocking The Cradle: Egypt 1975
The Jesus & Mary Chain - The Power Of Negative Thinking
The Manhattans - Sweet Talkin' Soul
Reba McEntire - 50 Greatest Hits
Willie Nelson - One Hell Of A Ride
1970s Algerian Proto-Rai Underground
Larry Norman - Rebel Poet, Jukebox Balladeer
Roy Orbison - The Soul Of Rock & Roll
Augustus Pablo - The Mysterious World Of Augustus Pablo
Phish - At The Roxy
Otis Redding - Live In Paris And London
Nina Simone - To Be Free
Will C - Down The Dial
Hank Williams - The Unreleased Recordings

NME writer's top tracks:
5. MGMT - Electric Feel
4. MGMT - Time To Pretend
3. Mystery Jets - Two Doors Down
2. Glasvegas - Geraldine
1. MGMT - Kids

Oh Warfair & Therapy's favourite track of the year:
Sigur Ros - Gobbledigook

Paste magazine's 50 Best albums of the year:
10. Deerhunter - Microcastle
9. Lucinda Williams - Little Honey
8. Sun Kil Moon - April
7. Girl Talk - Feed The Animals
6. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
5. Okkervil River- The Stand Ins
4. Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago
3. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
2. Sigur Rós - Med sud i eyrum vid spilum endalaust
1. She & Him - Volume One

Q Readers' favourite tracks of 2008:
5. Goldfrapp - A&E
4. Oasis - I'm Outta Time
3. Coldplay - Viva La Vida
2. Kings Of Leon - Sex On Fire
1. Keane - Perfect Symmetry

Q Readers' favourite albums of 2008:
[Kudos, by the way, to Q to making the most clunky navigation for any top music list yet uncovered: sure, theoretically you might get thirty page views for a single list, but who really will make it to the end of click-slowload-click-slowload?]
10. REM - Acclerate
9. The Last Shadow Puppets - The Age Of Understatement
8. Sparks - Exotic Creatures Of The Deep
7. Elbow - The Seldom-Seen Kid
6. Coldplay - Viva La Vida
5. Kings Of Leon - Only By The Night
4. Oasis - Dig Out Your Soul
3. Goldfrapp - Seventh Tree
2. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - Dig, Lazarus, Dig
1. Keane - Perfect Symmetry

Ra Ra Riot's favourite album of the year, via Filter:
Ceremony - Still Nothing Moves You

Sarah Rodman of the Boston Globe's favourite albums of the year:
She & Him - Volume One
Guns N Roses - Chinese Democracy
The Roots - Rising Down
Sugarland - Love On The Inside
Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
Al Green - Lay It Down
Joe Jackson - Rain
The Hold Steady - Stay Positive
Raphael Saddiq - The Way I See It
TV On The Radio - Dear Science

Britney Spear's 2008, as seen by MTV News:
If anyone is the comeback kid of 2008, it's Britney Spears. That's pretty amazing, considering the fact that in just the first week of the year, she was placed in a hospital for psychiatric observation and lost custody of her two young sons. But over the course of the past 12 months, she seems to have recuperated her losses. She got back to work, showed off her comedic chops on TV, hit the recording and dance studios, won some VMAs, made a tell-all documentary and had a #1 single and album.

Textura's 2008 Best Labels:
Kning Disk

Uncut's top albums
10. Paul Weller - 22 Dreams
9. Kings Of Leon - Only By The Night
8. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Dig!!! Lazarus, Dig!!!
7. Neon Neon - Stainless Style
6. Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid
5. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
4. Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago
3. TV On The Radio - Dear Science
2. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
1. Portishead - Third

James Walsh of Starsailor's favourite album, via Filter:
Panic At The Disco - Pretty Odd

Last updated: 26-12-08

Lest we forget: 2007 | 2006 | 2005

Labelobit: Shakir Stewart

Shakir Stewart, vice president of DefJam and Island DefJam, has died, according to a statement issued by DefJam.

During his time at Hitco Music Publishing, he signed Beyonce, building on a reputation gained promoting rap gigs. He replaced Jay-Z at DefJam back in June. At the time, LA Reid was generous in his praise:

“The bold young management style that Shakir has established at Def Jam is one of the major reasons behind the label’s success today. From his solid roots in music publishing, he has grown to master the world of hip hop and urban music.”

According to Billboard reports, Stewart may have taken his own life. No firm details have been released.

I'm a cowboy, on a golf cart I ride/ I'm wanted, dead or alive

Bon Jovi are in big, big trouble: one of their entourage is alleged to have driven a golf cart over a woman during their Milton Keynes gig in 2006; now, Sally Allen is suing.

She wasn't even an audience member - she was part of the security team on an importangt task:

Mrs Allen, 37, was part of a cordon preventing back-stage access after a fire broke out in the VIP area.

A member of the US band's personal security team, Kevin McDonnell, drove up to her demanding access and allegedly said: "I don't care about your emergency situation. Get out of my way, you fucking whore."

Mr McDonnell, an American, is said to have added: "Do you know who I am? You can't fucking stop me."

Wow. It's bad when alleged celebrities pull the 'do you know what I am' line; when the jumped-up security detail driving round in a Rascal starts barking it, there's a serious problem.

Curiously, Thames Valley Police said they couldn't investigate the case because McDonnell "left the country" after the incident:
Det Sgt Chris Jackson, the investigating officer, said: "Once we had pursued all lines of enquiry that we could and established that he was abroad, we could not pursue the matter further.

"But if we found out that he was back in this country there is nothing to stop us arresting him and interviewing him about the alleged attack."

Given that the UK government is happy to deport people to America under any circumstances, and McDonnell had only gone to the US, rather than disappearing into the Amazon rainforest, this seems a little lame on the part of the Thames Valley Force. Still, heartening for criminals to know they can evade the British police by nothing more onerous than taking rooms in Manhattan.